Creating A Property Set Up
for Maximum Deer Control, Part I

Everyone wants the secret to controlling deer movement on their property. Controlling deer movement includes many things from having different habitat types, the proper location of these different habitat types and management needed to maintain these various habitats. When you have the right formula of habitat creation on your property along with careful accessing of them prior to and during the deer hunting seasons you should no longer complain about the lack of deer sightings, or blame your Department of Natural Resources, DNR for their perceived poor performance in deer management. They are your deer and you are really the ultimate deer manager and that includes public land deer hunters. The DNR gives you the tools to manage your deer. This article and following ones describing property set ups for maximum deer control may not directly affect public land deer hunters but they should pick up a few clues to select the more promising locations.

Year Round and Complex
Creating a property set up for maximum deer control is a complex undertaking and in order to give you a more complete picture, we will give it in four segments with illustrations for we do not have the space to cover it in one article. This first article is also a preview of the many features needed for maximum results. Also included is an illustration showing in detail a suggested arrangement of these features. The last article includes a rather large summary for you to create your private sweet spot. Having a property set up for Maximum deer control is a year round undertaking and if created correctly you will influence and control deer movement throughout the year. If you have mature bucks hanging around during their summer rendezvous feasting period, you can be sure they will make your property part of their enlarged home range during hunting seasons. If you have 1 1/2 year old bucks on your land the first of the year that survived the recent hunting seasons, you can be sure that your property is from that point on, a permanent part of their future travel patterns.

Environmental Factors
Deer have different needs as the year moves on and we need to be aware of these needs as they change from season to season. In northern states such as Michigan there can be a large variation in environmental conditions. Michigan has almost a complete lack of winter stress and almost unlimited forage year round along the southern border to a much different condition in the northern lower to another world in the more stressful areas of the UP. One of our major concerns in the health of our deer is their most stressful period, which in most cases for northern states is the winter period.

Winter stress coupled with insufficient nutritious forage will affect deer in their fawning birth rate. There can be exceptionally low numbers of fawns surviving birth in spite of the fact that most to all adult does do get pregnant even under poor deer management conditions and almost always carry two fetuses. Yet these same adult does can have an average birth survival rate of less than one fawn per adult doe. It gets downright out of focus when a stressful winter and insufficient forage is coupled with poor deer management. Studies have shown when deer density is well beyond the carrying capacity of the habitat the surviving birth rate can bottom out to less than 1 fawn per adult doe. One recent study in the club country of the northeast lower peninsular of Michigan showed 1/7 of a fawn survival birthrate per adult doe, or put another way, it took 14 adult does to produce a single male fawn This means that there are very few if any replacement bucks being there for the future hunting seasons, yet one sees quite a few does and wonders why they see no bucks. They are seeing the same does year after year and too many of them for the habitat to support, yet these same hunters cry year after year, "We are taking too many does and that’s why we see no bucks".

Why is it that intelligent successful people have careful thought out answers in everyday decisions and yet when it comes to deer, it appears that some well respected individuals have even lost common sense in their conclusions.

Winter stress also affects the future growth potential of body and antler mass. We need to mitigate the winter stress to address the above effects. This is supposed to be a land management article and yet if the most important segment of deer management is not addressed, all is for naught.

Deer Density
First and foremost address that deer density and how it affects the related habitat carrying capacity. This means that the deer density should not be more than 60% of the maximum carrying capacity of the habitat. Spring browse surveys should be taken If you are seeing more than 50% of last years growth of deer preferred browse eaten you have a problem, for the plants are doomed to die with this amount of browsing.

Winter stress can be addressed with a serious timber management program and or planted winter carrying forage. In the enclosed illustration there is shown a large sized food plot called the final destination field, centrally located and includes a food plot of a variety of winter carryover forage. This single large acreage final destination field shown in the illustration of a total area of 120 acres plays a very important role in the total plan.

Final Destination Field
Even larger sized properties up to 500 acres should have a single final destination field and hopefully located centrally. The fewer the number of these fields the more effective will be the control of deer movement and that is our ultimate goal.
A final destination field is exactly what that name implies. Deer are encouraged to move toward that large field due to the large variety of nutritious deer preferred forage planted within. This final destination field is best if centrally located, which will not only influence deer movement on your property but also from the surrounding properties to be moving during daylight in the evening toward it. This field is wide open with little to no cover surrounding it, which suppresses early deer visitation. There is absolutely no hunting of deer by either bow or firearm in this large field nor is anyone allowed to walk through it. This lack of hunting pressure and human scent tells the deer that there is no danger in this field once they get there. It is natural for deer to stay in the heavy cover of the forest during daylight, for there the predators have a hard time sneaking, while during nighttime deer are more vulnerable in heavy cover. In large open fields the picture changes, deer with their night vision readily see predators such as wolves and coyotes sneaking in open fields. This is why deer constantly move when foraging. If deer move, so too must the wolf to gain ground. This wide open final destination field gives little incentive to deer to visit early, especially during the hunting season. Deer should remain in or near this field throughout the night. Deer tend to leave just before daybreak, which gives you in outlaying blinds a crack at deer going back to their bedding areas.

Using final Destination Fields
Another element in the maximum deer control set up is many super luscious small attractant food plots carefully located near your blinds. Add wide travel lanes of heavy cover leading from the final destination field past your bow blind and or alongside the many attractant food plots, some of which are visible to your firearm site and eventually allowing deer to safely arrive at their choice of several safe bedding areas located near the perimeter of your property. This arrangement encourages deer to pass near you and take a last bite of forage before heading to your created and strategically located bedding areas. The odds have now turned heavily in your favor, for you have set up a system that not only encourages deer to visit and make use of your creation you are controlling their movements in their use of it.The picture is reversed for the evening hunt as deer leave their bedding areas early during daylight and slowly move along the travel lanes to check on the status of other bedding areas and several attractant food plots, which has different delicious forage planted in each plot. After they have satisfied their curiosity in other bedding areas and tasted of your luscious appetizers in a few attractant food plots, the sun is now barely visible and getting time to move on toward that final destination field for the main course. It should be obvious that a large part of the plan is to control deer movement by having deer bedding on your land during the day and especially during the hunting seasons.

As the hunting seasons progress you will note that some deer that previously bedded on your neighbors move into your created, sacred and human scent free bedding areas. Not only are more deer on your land, the set up allows you to see these deer due to them being unalarmed, see them earlier in the evening, later in the morning and yes, even during mid day.

Hunting Locations and times
The main reason deer are unalarmed is due to you being very careful in choosing the day you hunt, especially during bow season, choosing the correct blind for that day and the method of entering and leaving that blind. In addition you must completely honor the sanctity of the safe bedding areas, (sanctuaries) the deer travel lanes, the attractant food plots and final destination field by never entering them a few weeks prior to or during the hunting seasons. You must also use separate access paths to all blinds. This includes all hunters in your camp doing the same.

Keep the fun in hunting!
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Ed Spinazzola
Chairman of the Board, Mid Michigan Branch QDMA
Board of Directors, National QDMA

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